Happy 2019! If you are like most people, the New Year comes with resolutions for change. Unfortunately, most resolutions fizzle out within weeks and the only lasting result is disappointment. This year can be different with a little planning and a new approach to change. Whether you are trying to lose weight, quit smoking, find a new job or relationship or some other goal that is important to you, developing a plan that will succeed happens in several steps.
9 Questions to Consider to Reach Goals
- What exactly do you want to change and WHY? Be specific. Instead of a broad goal like I want to lose weight, decide how much and what losing weight will give you that you don’t have now. I want to lose 20 pounds so that I can have more energy to play with my children. Or I want to find a new job that is more aligned with my education and interest so that I can feel more engaged at work.
- When would you like to reach the goal? Make the goal time-related. This will keep you on track and allow for a careful plan. If you want to lose 20 pounds by May, you will need to lose about a pound a week. I want a new job by April, so I need to work on my resume by January 15th and apply by February 1st.
- What do you need to get started? Prepare! There is a saying if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This is most likely true. For example, to lose weight, preparation includes removing tempting foods from your home, buying healthy food and prepping it so it’s ready when you are hungry among other things. Many a diet fails when there is no healthy food convenient and the tempting foods are lurking in the cabinet. Preparation is true for all goals and part of the preparation is to plan for obstacles.
- What will get in the way of success? Plan for obstacles. Most goals have obstacles, or we would have most likely already done it. Common obstacles are not enough time or money or support. This might require giving up something else to find time or money. This is also a time to check your true desire for change. Change is hard, so you want to make sure this is something you really want. Perhaps list the pros and cons to weigh your desire.
- Is this goal realistic? Make sure your plan is attainable. If you plan to lose 20 pounds by next week, that is unrealistic. An unrealistic goal sets you up to fail! This is not to say you should not challenge yourself, but make sure the steps within reach.
- Who will help, encourage and applaud you along the way? Find support. It’s far easier to make lasting change when you have a support system. Find a friend, family member, coach to help you stay on track, remind you of the benefits and cheer you on when you hit inevitable setbacks.
Also, who won’t support you? Even though most people will be encouraging, there are always those who try to sabotage our plan. Usually the sabotage is just a well-meaning attempt to let you off the hook but keep your eye open and have support on speed dial!
- How will you be accountable and to who? Accountability is necessary to stay on track. This is a personal decision. Sometimes something as simple as a tracking app will do the trick. More often checking in with a person (ask them reach out if you don’t!) will keep you moving forward.
- Who will know what you plan to do? Go public with your goal. Goals are more likely to succeed if you tell others that you are going to do so. For example, I have a goal to run a ½ marathon in April. I have been telling people because I know it will keep me going when I want to give up training through the cold winter months. It has been a goal for many years and this year I am following these steps to make it happen.
- How will you stay motivated and encouraged? Celebrate success! Part of your plan needs to be how you will celebrate completion of steps along the way in addition to once you reach your goal. Whether it is words of congratulations, a treat like a movie or dinner with friends, a massage or hike in the woods, make a list and celebrate each milestone.
One last thing to consider is whether January 1st is the right time to start the process. Since it is an arbitrary date, it might not be the best time for you. Not that I am encouraging procrastination! Instead, decide what the best time is for you and tell a trusted person. This will help you stay accountable. Wishing you much success!